A bit of a long rambling bastard but air travel does that....
Be born anywhere,.. but under the shadow of a great creed, not under the burden of original sin, not under the doom of salvation. Go out and be born among the gypsies or thieves or among the happy workaday people who live in the sun and do not think about their souls.
Pearl S. Buck
Last week was a strange week for anyone addicted to internet news. Which is all of us by now.
The family and I ran south for a long weekend in Phoenix for several reasons, all of which turned out to be wrong. Internet access was sporadic, air travel actually went ok, and we all caught some kind of stomach disease, almost certainly just from watching that stricken cruise ship on airport television. They say it was psychosomatic, which might be a new thing to watch for, because it was ugly and real for many hours as we dashed between restrooms and free public wifi with the kid in tow. But it gave your humble (ex) cowboy pause to reflect on the week that was...
All through the week a slow paralyzing madness came through the screens like a wave of St. Elmo's Fire in the rain. By late Thursday we were all like frogs in a pot, asking ourselves if the water felt warmer in some way. Then everything collapsed into silence and a few of us noticed that the needle had blown clean off the wierd-shit-o-meter when no one was looking. We learned a lot about ourselves, most of it ugly and shameful and yet somehow inspiring.
We are clearly, as a race, fully dulled to the cortex and oblivious to any new form of crowd shattering violence, whether it comes from God's agent in Italy, fleets of attacking Death Stars, Earthquake Tsunamis, Dead Winter Climate Change, L.A. Cops on murder sprees or even when the entire party of Dwight Eisenhower suddenly and openly endorses domestic terror as a form of patriotic conservatism. This week merely confirmed for some of us who still live above ground that we are all internet addicts and we might as well make the best of it before the Chinese come for drinks and stay the winter, or until the planet dies.
We learned that the only truly free people on earth are apparently a marooned population of failed missile technicians and gypsy poets out near Chelyabinsk (sp?). They all have dashboard cameras it turns out, possibly because they drive with openly homicidal drunkenness or just because they know how to handle the cops. They are already lost to us again, fading in the rear view mirror of our ADD driven news cycle - which is better for everyone, especially them. Still, for a few hours late last week those crazy bastards showed us how to live.
They all witnessed, and filmed, the giant flaming deathshot of a meteoroid or an asteroid or a failed secret United States Air Force robot spy space shuttle. They filmed it from hundreds of viewpoints in perfectly edited 8 second clips with better audio than most American television shows. The camera might never lie, but that doesn't mean it has to tell the truth either, I guess. In the end, no one will admit to having the foggiest notion about what really happened out there. Russia has a long history of such things and it is a big land with many secrets yet to keep...
We learned that sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday morning The Entire Catholic Religion ceased to exist as anything more that a coven of very queerly dressed real estate tycoons.
Something like 2700 million church members stopped dead in their tracks when God's man in Europe was revealed to either have AIDS or Alzheimer's disease, or perhaps both. The only truth now is that The Vatican is no country for old men. It turns out that God's official spokesman down here on the dirt has lost his celestial immunity in many awkward ways for reasons that might never be made clear.
The Pope retired suddenly and may already be dwelling in a glass walled cage next to his own future crypt down in the basement. No one is sure if it happened because God is getting older or because the Mexican boys they send up to the gilded rooms are getting younger. In any case, the lack of global reaction is another proof of how dulled humanity has become in the new media era. The Irish at least or even the Franco-Catholic rail-working unions should have been rioting in the streets by now. They were told in a blunt press release before dawn that God and his agent in Rome had a falling out. The last would no longer speak for the first, or words to that effect.
From here on out, despite the canned media stories, where the next Pope was born is going to be a lot less critical for the survival of the Catholic Church in the future than if there is a penis attached to the Great See. There has been an elephant in the church for a long time now. After this week even the blind men have to feel it for what it is. There is a broader sweeping trend in western civilization to end the pretension that the tradition of old men and young boys wearing silk robes together, in private, pleases any God worth believing in. Even the boy scouts are looking for new slogans to sell their legacy of men-who-aren't-the-father teaching young boys all about the joys of leather, knot-craft and using friction to start fires. In any case a lot of voices will be calling for a female Pope to be named, or at least nominated. It will work to, if only they can figure out what she would wear. Well, Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc, as the man once said.
On the business side: The much vaunted "Euro" currency had everything in its favor this season, the troubles of individual Euro countries should have been the perfect platform to underscore the strengths of a unified Euro "nation". They should have, in a lesser but significant way paralleled America's high water mark of recovering markets. Last week could have been the best week for empirical European commerce since their wine industry hired a young Jewish kid in North Africa to lay out the slogan, "have a little wine for thy stomach and what ails you".
If 3% of the doom that the Republican Party claims is the fiscal reality in America under President Obama was actually true last week the Euro would have rolled through Wall Street like seven or eight body bloating Tsunamis hammering through Laird Hamilton's living room on a moonless night.
The Europeans have the remains of five or six entire national currencies to draw from while the entire American banking system couldn't lend enough money for a day of gambling at the dog track. (So much of America's M1 money supply is hoarded offshore and out of use right now that the Chinese could conquer America by invading the Bahamas.) Meanwhile some of America's most commanding national industries: Boeing Jets, Apple Computers, Budweiser Beer, the National Football League and even an entire Nimitz class Carrier Battle Group were sidelined or temporarily shut down for most of last week. Also, if anything in American digital commerce didn't get shut down or hacked in February it was only because the servers were already down.
If this perfect storm of Greenback vulnerability had happened in any other week since George Marshall went permanently insane and had to "retire", the Soviets would have had enough tanks through the Fulda Gap by Tuesday morning to alter the tectonic plates of Western Europe; Korea would have simply disappeared; either Iran or Iraq would have absorbed the other by force and China would have seized Taiwan for keeps. But this week no power changed hands at all, nothing moved across any borders that mattered. No one can look up from their screens long enough to even see the old mud walled world.
David Beckham, the 6th or 8th highest paid athlete in American and world history moved to play for Paris last week, where he will donate his entire salary to charity. But still soccer or football, or whatever they call it, didn't get any kind of ratings bump even in the absence of NFL Sunday action. The strange saga of the entirety of the L.A. cops out in force to track, corner and execute a whistle-blowing former brother of that thinnest blue line in America, like a three legged mountain lion, drew fewer television viewers in all of southern California than the average Tour de France does in Wyoming.
Nine Thousand different Island nations, give or take, were slammed by a 30 foot wall of water emanating from the Chilean trench. Most of Australia was so hot at 3am Wednesday night that gasoline evaporated from the pump-jacks before entering the vehicles. Most of the North American Ski industry started preparing to close down after one of the warmest driest seasons on record. The burgeoning droughts in Australia and North America made last years' comprehensively failed American corn crop look like something Teddy Roosevelt chopped through with a machete on his last, fatal, river trip in Brazil. Which was back when green was a color you'd see in nature and dressing like a boy scout was considered masculine. Happy Days reruns seemed to get more viewers than all of those stories combined last week
Warren Buffet spent more cash money than Apple has to buy a ketchup (or catsup) company. It will save his fast food chains something like 18/1000s of a British pfennnig on every happy meal that will be sold in Europe anytime after the Republican Party regains the White House. Which turns out to be real money and one of the biggest plays since he also bought the entire railroad industry West of the Mississippi river. That deal was coincidentally right before the Mississippi river dried up and left twenty million tons of export cargo stuck from Louisiana up river to as far as the part of Montana with no trees. So maybe tomato futures are worth a look, anon.
Just as the Catsup deal was happening, somebody on the internets pointed out that Apple is to the intellectual productivity of America today what crack cocaine was in about 1987. The whistle blew for a short time but the train lost steam fast and started rolling back down the big hill. Any time before President Obama got elected, the shock of having every single retirement account in America loose 15 or 20 % of it's assumed most stable investment in two days would have croaked the system so massively that even the Russians would not have wanted to come collect the pieces. Not last week my friend. Last week the markets yawned.
A staunch Republican hawk with and "A" rating from the NRA is being blockaded by Senator John McChairthrower as SecDef. Which makes perfect sense when you accept the reality that the Republicans of 2013 are to actual national Security what the Catholic Priesthood is to actual Heterosexuality. (The truth is that if Senator "Maverick" doesn't punch out soon, the whole jet-setting party is going nose first into an enemy held lake.)
Warren Buffet now owns all the trains, fast food, condiments, furniture, car parts, power companies, bottled beverages, candy, tools, underwear and most of the liquid banks in America that are worth talking about. He doesn't seem to own much Apple stock though.
The Pope himself appears to have been excommunicated, either because he was a Nazi or a Boy Scout troop leader, or both.
All plant-life in Australia died, then burned, then died again of heat and drought.
Fragments of a space object, some the size of the Red October submarine, crashed through the atmosphere, but only in communist countries, or San Francisco, which is the same thing I guess. NORAD and the combined air defense industry contractors of America, which are pretty much the most expensive thing Republicans ever made liberals pay for, was caught off guard. Probably because it was not Christmas Eve, when they have historically done their best, if only, successful work. The monkey-photoshopping Ayatollahs of Iran suddenly seem like decent, honest scientists compared to America's Atari playing space defenders.
This week Muhammed Ali could have run naked, screaming satanic verses through Rockefeller Center with a depleted Uranium Baseball bat and Katie Couric would not even have flinched. Not that we expect much from our "New Media'' but it would be a lot more fun if someone other than the kids at The Onion would get back into the game with a little "journalism".
Last we showed people who pay attention just how far American journalism has fallen. Neil Sheehan, drunk in Saigon, for an hour in 1969 with only a pay phone line to Tokyo, could deliver more journalism than every internet news company in America did for all 168 hours last week. Not one single reporter noticed that the Pope was blind, deaf and dumb for the better part of a year; or that Apple hasn't actually released a new product in almost a decade; or that it is stupidly obvious that climate change is savagely upon us all; or that Warren Buffet and GM are the entire market basket we need to define the GDP; or that the Russians can afford stuff like dashboard cams (and thus might be a good place to send sales guys); or that the Republican party has broken itself on the rocks of President Obama's slow, moderate political acumen; or that not even Matt Taibbi knows where in the hell the sixty battrillion dollars we thought we were spending on missile detecting space radar secret satellite defense shields got smoked. Or who smoked it. Or if there is any left.
After 9/11 a lot of very bad things happened in America. One of the saddest yet most promising was that we cancelled pen and paper education and started jamming hot sparking wires straight into our children's cerebellums. And our own of course, until the argument became not if we should allow airplane passengers to have cancerous wifi at 32,000 feet, but if they should even bother to put a kill-switch in the cockpit. Should we still allow an actual pilot some emergency way to fly the zooming beast with his own delirium trembling hands in case one of the massive cellphone chargers down in the hull of the airship suddenly bursts into white hot poison fire while coming in low on short final over the Salt River?
We should think about this question, and a lot more like it, because if last week was any indicator the ghost is inside the machine now. Which is fine for the rest of us. As long as we know we will have full signal internet news and porn, and frighteningly expensive music to download, and some cask strength Old Portrero Whiskey right up until the last moment of doom then we will never be alarmed that every thing that moves in America, especially in the sky, is being simultaneously controlled by the staff of a single Radio Shack store somewhere up near Elko.
We are home now, 7500 feet on a cold night and the wife and kid and dogs and cat, and even the little vole under the sink I can't seem to catch, are reunited and asleep, and I am writing this nonsense, but I don't care because it is a new week. All I really know is that I will piss off of my porch in about 90 seconds, and it will be cold enough to make me shiver when I come in, unplug the wireless ovoid and slide under the covers and I have no idea what is in second place tonight, nor do I care, because it is a hell of thing to get home before dark when you
Ride for the High Country